House of Strangers

Saturday, 21 May, Year 8 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

House of Strangersi is an interesting bag. Much of the contextual awareness required for it to make any sort of sense is now lost, but let's try nevertheless.

Gino is a barber, who ran off to the New World, specifically because in the Old World, if your father was a barber, you were going to be a barber. In the New World, who knows.

He has four sons, with a woman that is the Old World personified. They turn out rotten : a poltroon, a dimwit, a faggoty narcisist and... well... a lawyer.

The iconic scene defining Gino happens in a courtroom : he tells everyone, and even you, Mr! [judge] that

You shut up! Is a free country! I do what I think is right! And what I think is right is right! I don't care what anybody say! Not you! Not you! And not you, mister! I, Gino Monetti! No one tell me what to do!

Ecce homo. Apud Pitrèii,

La mafia non è setta né associazione, non ha regolamenti né statuti. Il mafioso non è un ladro, non è un malandrino; e se nella nuova fortuna toccata alla parola, la qualità di mafioso è stata applicata al ladro, ed al malandrino; ciò è perché il non sempre colto pubblico non ha avuto tempo di ragionare sul valore della parola, né s’è curato di sapere che nel modo di sentire del ladro e del malandrino il mafioso è soltanto un uomo coraggioso e valente, che non porta mosca sul naso, nel qual senso l’essere mafioso è necessario, anzi indispensabile. La mafia è la coscienza del proprio essere, l’esagerato concetto della forza individuale, unica e sola arbitra di ogni contrasto, di ogni urto d’interessi e d’idee; donde la insofferenza della superiorità e peggio ancora della prepotenza altrui. Il mafioso vuol essere rispettato e rispetta quasi sempre. Se è offeso non si rimette alla legge, alla giustizia, ma sa farsi personalmente ragione da sé, e quando non ne ha la forza, col mezzo di altri del medesimo sentire di lui.iii

To add Falcone's point,

Se vogliamo combattere efficacemente la mafia, non dobbiamo trasformarla in un mostro né pensare che sia una piovra o un cancro. Dobbiamo riconoscere che ci rassomiglia.iv

Now then - the father, in America, has four sons and all four are rotten. The first three'd have been just as rotten in the Old World as in the New, which is why Old World stories usually limit themselves to three sons. The fourth however... he's modern, modernized, he's adapted himself. And that's just as bad, even though the father doesn't have the eyes to notice, the senses to sense - much like the now extinct penguins lacked the sense to fear gunshot.

He loses himself, and then dies. He writes a lot before he dies, but it doesn't take. His wife, who loves him perfectly, has nothing to say to him. Not anymore. She knows she's failed, and that's all there was, for her. She withdraws in silence, and prayer.

The end.

  1. 1949, by J. L. Mankiewicz, with Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward. []
  2. G. Pitrè, Usi, costumi, usanze e pregiudizi del popolo siciliano, Palermo, 1978, II, p. 292. []
  3. Mafia is neither sect nor association, nor has rule or statute. The mafioso is no thief, nor a blackguard ; and if in the new spin of the term mafia-ness was applied to the thief, and to the blackguard, it's because the public had not the time to reflect on the value of the term, nor bothered to find that in the manner of the thief and the blackguard, the mobster is merely a courageous, valliant man, unconcerned and unworried, in which sense being a mafioso is necessary, indeed indispensable. Mafia is the consciousness of one's own being, the extreme conception of individual force, one and sole arbiter of any contrast, of any clash of interest or idea ; where the intolerance of another's superiority is worse still than oppression from outside. The mafioso wants to be respected and almost always respects. Offended, he will not supplicate the law, or Justice, but personally takes his own account, and when he hasn't the force, proceeds through the intermediation of others of the same mind. []
  4. To combat efficaciously la Mafia, we mustn't transform it into a monster nor think it an octopus or a cancer. We must admit that it is rather familiar. []
Category: Trilematograf
Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.

19 Responses

  1. Acuma blogul ii despre recenzii de filme?

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 21 May 2016

    Apai ca si-antan, ii despre ce-am io chef sa scriu ziua aia.

  3. Comunque, la mafia, che si riteneva prodotta da una società contadina arretrata e miserabile, quale quella siciliana, radicandosi e prosperando nella società americana, ad alto livello d’industrializzazione e a un grado di benessere il più alto del mondo, si rivelò fenomeno più complesso e vitale: un sistema analogo al sistema capitalistico.

    ~ Leonardo Sciascia.

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 21 May 2016

    Was just talking with a friend about how lulzy the Mafia-butthurt of Italian commies/socialists/etatists is. Like hyenas smelling wolf, quite exactly, their hair stands on end.

    Not without reason, either, it's historically been pretty much the only thing to efficiently combat socialism, "human rights", "peace movement", universalism, etatism and what other countless demons of modernity ; and also survive.

  5. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 10 January 2020

    Pa, have you read the new Banking Act?
    I don't even read the old one. Why?

    Well, it's got teeth. We might as well face it, Pa. Right now it looks like you can be indicted on 22 counts, and each count carries a year in jail.
    Well, why? Why? What I do wrong for 22 counts?

    A felony called "misapplication of funds." This is no time to go into the law. We've got to figure out our next move.
    A smart lawyer like you, Max, you oughta be able to find a fix somewhere.

    This is the state government. Square apples all the way down the line. They don't fix. Period. I think we can save the bank. In fact, it's good they closed us up. Lots of banks are having runs. Now we've got a chance to liquidate and start over with a clean slate.
    Oh, I sell the house. I sell everything. Everybody gets paid back.

    That won't help. That only saves the bank. How do we pull you through?
    Well, we fight the indictments. We fight them in court. We fight.

    Yes, but how?
    Well, me and my four sons, we find some way.

    Yeah. Yeah. We can split it up four ways. You, Joe, Tony, Pietro. Divided responsibility. Nobody knows who did just what. Nothing definite they can pin on any single one of you. How about it, Joe? It'll be easier on Pa that way.

    Yes, I suppose it will be.
    Well? Tony? Pietro?
    I never had enough responsibility to divide.
    What do you say?
    I'm a clerk. I get $65 a week. Not enough to go to jail for.

    What's that got to do with it?
    No, shut up. Shut up, Max. Now, look, Joe, Gino Monetti don't ask nothing from a clerk. Not when I got four sons to help me. You my oldest son.
    Since when?
    Since when? Your oldest son. Oh, you mean, I've been around the longest, that's all. More time to wait on you like a servant. To be pushed down, humiliated. Chauffeur, valet, clerk. Since when have I been your son? Max, he's your son. You're his father. You can be his worry now, not mine.
    So, for a few more dollars a week... I could have had a good son in you, eh, Joe? First time I learn this. Maybe it's time I know, huh? Father and son, son and father is cash-and-carry. You, Pietro? How much, uh, you want to be my son?
    Joe said it for me. What was I ever to you? A dumbhead. Ever since I was a kid. Dumbhead. Dumbhead! Who's gonna pay attention to me? A guard in the bank?
    If I wasn't your father, you wouldn't even be guard. You don't have any sense. Four, five schools they throw you out. You don't want to study. All the time, fight. That's all you good for. Not even for fighting, you good. You got a weak belly, dumbhead. Well, Tony?
    Now don't get me wrong, Pa. I don't want to see anything happen to you. But I don't want to stick my neck out.
    Why not? What is so good about your neck?
    Well, it's just that how do I know it's as easy as Max says? And if anything goes wrong-
    You're not even enough man to say what you mean. You're just in time, Ma. Did you know you brought up a houseful of strangers? Strangers. For who do you think I build the bank, huh? Who do you think I work and build, build and work? For me? For Mama? We cannot live long enough to spend what we got a long time ago. Mama wanted me to stop, but no. I work and build, I build and work. For what then? For my sons. For you, Joe. Is good I pay you little. Then you know what it is to be poor. You remember when you are rich. Was right to pay you little money. Yeah, is good I call you dumbhead. You know, muscle is not something to be proud of. Gorilla has got bigger than anybody else. Maybe you learn to use your brain. Think, not hit. Is right to call you dumbhead. And you, weak. Dress up all the time. Clothes, the girls. Everything but the bank. The bank. The Bank of Gino Monetti. Gino Monetti and his sons. That's what I work and build for. That's why I live. But no more. I have no sons. I have strangers. Go on, get out!

    We'll beat it without them, Pa. You don't need them. You better get some sleep. We've got an awful lot to do tomorrow.

    Hey, Mama, why you don't talk to me no more? Why I don't hear you laugh no more, huh? What happen to you?
    Maybe I get old.

    Old? Oh, maybe a little gray, but not old. Is pretty color, gray. We have plenty good time again. Soon Max, he fix everything, and then you and me, we take a little trip, huh? Palermo. You like to go back to Palermo once more, Mama?
    I wish we never leave old country, Gino.

    Oh, we have nothing there. Here we got everything.
    Here we got nothing.

    What do you mean? This fine house, money, servants, uh, cars, diamonds? You call this nothing?
    We poor, Gino. When we only have barbershop, we rich. We love each other. The boys, you, me. Now is no more love. Is only hate.

  1. [...] of four and prefer to pretend equality with everyone instead of humiliating some, oppressing some, respecting others and so on ? Fine! You'll get social hierarchy on the basis of invidious womanly bullshit. Happy nao [...]

  2. [...] first is an 1948 production built around that Romanian Jew : House of Strangers. To quote, Now then - the father, in America, has four sons and all four are rotten. The first [...]

  3. [...] ; daily, all the time - just like it's alright if you lose your first son, and for that matter all your sons. After all, it's all for "the greater good", you know, [...]

  4. [...] Businessi is a very optimistic take on that age old problem of the rotten son (and very strictly a story of men, like all stories ever were, and forever will be). It goes like [...]

  5. [...] the only actual hero of any substance in the whole assemblage of perambulating avortons, readily recognized as such by the implicit hero the cameras follow around, is the one guy who [...]

  6. [...] ; psedo-charity is absolutely not. The alternative view ruins civilisation in general as well as private happiness in all particulars. [↩]Isn't it amusing, how this always was (and on the basis of which [...]

  7. [...] obvious point that our North American colony spent its formative years importing A-class women and breeding D-class men locally... but then again that's not the sort of point an audience's expected, or even [...]

  8. [...] very natural response is "burn it all down". This natural response may appear pathological, but only to those who have accepted the system as [...]

  9. [...] and there only) or Byrne -- in Miller's Crossing. The truly strong alternatives, Paul Newman, E. G. Robinson, James Cagney and... well, that's it. That's it! They're strong alright, but... what can I tell [...]

  10. [...] loyalties than any kind of national conception (especially as the importance of filiation and the clan diminishes under the dissolutive factors of "urban" life in the prole ghettos), and on the other [...]

  11. [...] the "you're affraid to get married" ilk. [↩]Maybe they weren't worth caring about ; this is a common enough discovery in adult males, as it happens. Or is the proposition here that by simple virtue of "being his [...]

  12. [...] liked his pipe, or drank beer... Was he spinning in his mind the words that'll later become the "house of strangers" speech, was his name Moneta, and nobody tells him how to live, not you and not you and not you [...]

  13. [...] misuse was little more than a way to underestimate Reason. It's not here to fix your State and your broken sons and daughters for you ; it's here to playfully connive with me, and nothing [...]

  14. [...] see, "they have to", you see, somehow magically immune to the only important question : what, asks the Father, about your neck makes it so valuable it shouldn't be cut [...]

Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.